01 March 2017
Support for Sec. Lopez’s mining crackdown growing across PH
Support for the landmark crackdown on destructive large-scale mining projects led by Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez is spreading across the Philippines, culminating in a protest caravan of mining-affected communities from Nueva Vizcaya, Zambales, Batangas, and Mindoro that will converge today with thousands of environmental advocates in a mobilization supporting Lopez’s confirmation as DENR secretary.
“We stand with Sec. Gina Lopez against the powerful foreign and big mining interests that are attempting to sabotage the closure and suspension of their destructive mines. The Duterte government should decisively nationalize these mineralized lands and judiciously plan the development of these lands based on public need and interest,” said Leon Dulce, campaign coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).
Various actions have been waged leading to the convergence. Last February 27, some 9,000 people across simultaneous peace marches and rallies in the CARAGA region protested large-scale mining operations and the militarization of mining-affected communities, and expressed support for the mine closures.
“We support Sec. Gina Lopez in her decision to close down 23 abusive large scale mines, 14 of which are in Caraga Region. They would not have been closed down if they considered people and the environment over their greed for profit and took care of the environment and the people’s main sources of livelihood which are farming and fishing,” said Pastor Pio Mercado, spokesperson of the regional network CARAGA Watch.
A 5,000-strong rally in Mindoro was held on the same day to celebrate the cancellation of mining applications over the island and show their support for Sec. Lopez.
“We must build on this people’s victory to oppose the Mining Act of 1995 that gave foreign mining corporations like Intex Resources the go-signal to rape our lands,” said Reverend Ian Loid Delos Santos, spokesperson of Kaisahan ng mga Mindoreno Laban sa Dayuhan at Dambuhalang Pagmimina (KALAS MINA)
In the Ilocos region, Defend Ilocos regional coordinator Sherwin De Vera shared that “at least 16 church, civil society, and local government leaders from the Ilocos region signed a unity statement in support of the DENR chief’s mine closure, encouraging Lopez to swiftly and fully implement her orders.”
De Vera also added that the Provincial Board of Ilocos Sur filed Provincial Resolution No. VII-2017 last February 14 commending Sec. Lopez’s campaign against destructive mines.
In Zambales, the Movement for the Protection of the Environment (MOVE NOW! Zambales) and the Diocese of Iba Advocacy Desk held a public forum last February 22 to discuss the DENR’s mining audit results and express support for Sec. Lopez.
MOVE NOW! Zambales spokesperson Cristeta Sison said “the four big mining companies in Zambales should be compelled to fully rehabilitate the ecosystems they devastated from our mountains down to the seas.”
Other regional and provincial groups have also expressed their support for Sec. Lopez’s big mining crackdown. Cordillera People’s Alliance secretary-general Abigail Anongos said they “support the cancellation of the 75 mining agreements in watershed areas, where 5 in the list are located in the Cordillera. In fact, mining companies should not be allowed to operate in the Cordillera because the Cordillera is the watershed area of the entire Northern Luzon.”
Defend Patrimony – Southern Negros spokesperson Rev. Fr. Alvin Gene Lacson also welcomed the mining agreement cancellation that included four projects in their province, saying “this is the first time that a DENR Secretary boldly and massively ordered the closure of mines and scrapped mining agreements.”
Kalikasan PNE said “progressive environmental groups across the nation will engage Sec. Lopez in pursuing the critical next step of passing a new mining policy that will ensure a minerals production based on people’s needs and welfare, including environmental safety. House Bill 2715 or the People’s Mining Bill will nationalize the mining industry to ensure that it respects people’s rights, safeguards the environment, and builds genuine national development.”#